Two Kinds of Work

My friend Scott Perry offered me a really helpful reframe the other day:

There’s the work we have to do, and the work we get to do.

The work we have to do covers our responsibilities and allows us to get by in the world of money and things. It might be a job, a career, or — if we’re lucky — a vocation.

The work we get to do is where we thrive, contribute, and play with possibility. It might be a hobby or a vocation, or — if we’re lucky — a job or a career.

Where people get in trouble, Scott told me, is when they conflate the two or put too much pressure on the work they get to do. Passion projects that have to pay the bills are rarely satisfying and not always successful.

The opportunity, then, is to find work worth doing to cover your responsibilities, and to do work worth talking about on the side. The better you get at the work you get to do, the more opportunities you can earn to do it.